Ten days before the Google-owned video sharing site Youtube had suspended the account of popular Egyptian human rights activist Wael Abbas because of torture videos the award-winning blogger presented there. The account has been restored now, but all about 100 videos Abbas had uploaded have been deleted.
Wael Abbas, who won the noted Knight Award of the International Center for Journalists this year, had, among videos showing voting irregularities or anti-government demonstrations, uploaded records of torture in Egyptian police stations and prisons. One of these videos had lead to last month’s jail sentence against two police officers, attracting international attention.
The blogger’s account has been restored on November 30, documented by comments there. Today, Youtube announced this in an answer on my protest note from November 28, saying the account were viewable again:
Thanks for your email.
We have reinstated the account in question and you should be able to view it again.
User feedback is very important to us, and your comments and ideas will be used to improve the YouTube community.
The YouTube Team”
The motives leading to the suspension and its retreat were not mentioned, but Fox News quotes Youtube calling it an official act:
“Having reviewed the case, we have restored the account of Egyptian blogger Wael Abbas — and if he chooses to upload the video again with sufficient context so that users can understand his important message we will of course leave it on the site.”
Unfortunately, all of Wael Abbas videos have been deleted. Even though he has cover up copies of them this is a great loss, as the Committee to Protect Bloggers points out, noticing that all permalinks have been deleted with the videos. So, even if Wael Abbas uploads the videos again, they will not be shown on the sites linking to them before the suspension. That causes the loss of the great viral effects Abbas’ work had up to now.
Having said that, the restoring of Wael Abbas’ account is still a great effort for the Egyptian blogosphere, showing that protesting against censorship is not futile. Hopefully, Youtube will maintain this (new) liberal politic on human rights activists in future, allowing them to use the platform in their work for freedom, even if it means breaking the community policies.
Blogger for Freedom
Youtube suspends human rights activist’s account (28.11.07)